Damien Hirst credits Blue Peter for spin paintings

1975 show featuring a motorised cardboard spinning machine for children “who like to paint but never really know what to draw.” inspired the nine-year-old Hirst as he watched in his parents' house in Leeds
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Blue Peter presenters circa 1975 and Damien Hirst
Blue Peter presenters circa 1975 and Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst has revealed the secret behind his spin paintings - they were inspired by a 1975 episode of the UK BBC children's TV show, Blue Peter. Hirst says 'patent picture painter' demonstrated by John Noakes on the show in 1975 inspired him as a child

Hirst appears on today's programme (August 30) and will receive a coveted gold Blue Peter badge for his services to UK art. He joins a select group of about 1,000 people who own a gold badge which includes the queen and David Beckham. "I grew up with Blue Peter," he tells the prgramme. "I got my idea for the spin paintings from an episode in the 1970s."

Hirst adds: "I never thought it was real art. I remember thinking: 'That's fun, whereas art is something more serious.' And then as I got older, I started thinking about Van Gogh and all those painters, and cutting your ear off when you're painting, and at that point I just thought: 'Why does it have to be like that?' I thought: 'No, actually, the better art is the art made with the spin machine.'"

Hirst tells the programme that it was presenter John Noakes’s demonstration of a motorised cardboard spinning machine four decades ago that set him on the path to creating art. The contraption was described on the programme as a device for children “who like to paint but are one of those people who never really knows what to draw.”

Made of a rubber band, two nails banged into a wooden baton, an electric motor and a battery, the spin machine turned blobs of paint into a kaleidoscopic explosion of colours on the canvas. Blue Peter editor Tim Levell said: "Blue Peter is famous for encouraging children to get up and do something creative. It's great to see that come full circle, and for us to present Damien with a gold Blue Peter badge for all he's done for British art." Read more Damien Hirst stories.


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